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One of the largest developers in China, the China Pacific Construction Group, is planning to invest 22 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) to flatten some 700 mountains in the Lanzhou area, making way for a giant new city. Unsurprisingly, the construction of the new metropolis is proving to be highly controversial, raising concerns regarding its potentially negative environmental impact.

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Called the Lanzhou New Area, the planned metropolis will be located 50 miles from the province’s capital city, Lanzhou. The project was approved by China’s state council, as it will significantly increase the region’s domestic product (up to $43 billion by 2030). However, there are concerns about the environmental impact of the new development — the city of Lanzhou, built on industries that include textiles, fertilizer production and metallurgy, already has the worst air pollution in China, according to the World Health Organization. The new city could worsen the water scarcity situation already present in the extremely arid area of Gansu province.

In response to environmental concerns, the company claims that the project will engage a “protective style of development,” which will ultimately bring water to the area and achieve reforestation.

Via Treehugger